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November 18, 2010 / justerik

Cowboys And Aliens And Parallel Development

I buy notebooks somewhat obsessively. There are at least three legal pads within arms reach of me right now, as well as a spiral bound notebook and more than a few floating sheets of loose leaf.

Most of these represent projects that were aborted or went into deep freeze, or in a few cases completed projects, mostly for work. But in the back of a large five subject notebook stacked up in a box somewhere is the beginning of a film script. Hold on, lemme see if I can find it.


A COWBOY. Posed against the night sky like a cigarette ad, lit by a dying fire.

THUNDER. Doesn’t clap, it rumbles, rolls. A growing ROAR. With it comes WIND, whipping at the brim of the cowboy’s hat. He looks up.

In flat country, weather comes fast when it does come. We see a THUNDERHEAD coming that looks to set records, beautiful and terrible.

The rolling wave of grey wipes out the stars like stray marks on a chalkboard. LIGHTNING cracks like bullets. Our hero stumbles to his feet.

The cloud is nearly upon him now, the sounds of his frightened HORSE adding to the cacophony. Within the cloud’s edge we see a FIRE glowing brighter and brighter, crawling to the surface of the stormcloud, a ROAR growing LOUDER and LOUDER, the air itself screaming until the fire breaks free and we see –


Okay, so please ignore both the quality of the writing and of the formatting. It was a first draft, and WordPress won’t let me do anything too pretty.

On the next few pages I’ve got notes about various western and alien invasion tropes, looking for cool intersections. But like many things I got distracted and never came back to it. It’s nothing but single cool image, a page of a first draft, and a title: “Cowboys versus Aliens”.

Now check out this. Cowboys & Aliens. It’s cool. I’ll wait.

You’d think I’d be bummed that someone else got to my idea, but a couple of things of note. First, this looks to be solidly in the action-Western genre (think Magnificent Seven, or the remake of 3:10 To Yuma), whereas I think I was going to go a little more High Noon meets Pod People. Also, it looks like the graphic novel on which the flick is based precedes my sketch by about a year.
The way I like to see it, I now get to see the movie without having to write it. Best of both worlds.

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